Bowe joins the US Army without telling his parents, but later receives their support. He trains in Georgia, and is then assigned to1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based in Fort Richardson, Alaska. A former roommate, Shelly Horton, says about his enlistment:
He wasn’t going to go to college. He liked the odd jobs, but I think he was ready for a career, and that is the career he chose.